Friday, July 29, 2005

Gaybashing — A Continuing Series

Two stories in the news about gays being subjected to discrimination, intolerance, and violence.

The first is from here in Florida where a gay couple who were apparently minding their own business and living a quiet life were subjected to taunts, threats, and finally arson.

Paul Day and Christopher Robertson knew life as gay men in Polk County could be rough. They had been called names and taunted by neighborhood teens before.

Day, 25, said he even had a mailbox riddled with shotgun pellets once when living near the Green Swamp in the north part of the county.

The couple never thought it would get so bad as Monday, when they returned home from errands to find their house in Kings Manor Mobile Home Park in Lakeland torched and the words “Die Fag” spray-painted on the front steps.


Day and Robertson have called Polk County home for most of their lives. As early as high school, Day said he knew he was gay and identified himself openly. Problems with other people, though, have plagued him. He said he called the authorities three times for such incidents as rocks thrown at his home and a shot-riddled mailbox when living in north Polk County.

The second is from Virginia where a donation from a gay contributor to a political campaign is enough to launch an attack.

Del. Bradley P. Marrs, R-Chesterfield, facing an independent challenger who depicts him as captive to GOP conservatives, is attacking a $10,000 contribution to his opponent from a “wealthy homosexual businessman.”

George M. “Mac” Pence III, a prominent automobile dealer who is gay and lives in Marrs’ Richmond-Chesterfield district, said he is the lawmaker’s apparent target. Marrs alludes to Pence in a July 6 fundraising letter, though the lawmaker does not identify him.

Pence, who supplied a copy of the letter, made the five-figure donation in May to Katherine B. Waddell of Richmond, a moderate Republican, one-time aide to former Lt. Gov. John H. Hager and outspoken advocate of abortion rights.

Marrs defended the letter yesterday as “standard political campaigning . . . no great innovation.” Pence and Waddell said it was evidence Marrs practices divisive politics.

“This letter could be implying that a gay person to be involved in the political process is a bad thing,” said Pence, a Republican since his teenage years who generally gives to GOP candidates, but this year also donated money to an un- successful prospect for the Democratic lieutenant governor’s nomination.

“I think it’s unfortunate to single out groups of people,” Waddell said. “My opponent seems to represent a select few.”

I think it’s a pretty sad state of affairs when a candidate can defend sending out a fundraising letter with a gaybashing theme and consider it just “standard political campaigning.” Just once I’d like to see a national political leader of either party stand up to a local hatemonger running in his or her party and tell them that that kind of crap is not acceptable. But as long as you think you can get ahead by scaring the bejesus out of your constituents, they’ll keep trying, and as long as the national leaders are silent on it, they’ll keep winning.

As for the Florida story, I’m not surprised. They don’t call parts of this state Lower Alabama for nothing. Again, it would be nice to see some state leaders come out against this sort of thing and promise to put an end to it. Yeah, that’ll happen.